12 February 2020

The first direct evaluation of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy impact on drinks formulation has been published.

The Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) was introduced in April 2018 to help combat childhood obesity and related conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It applies to drinks containing more than 5g of sugar per 100ml, but not to fruit juice, milk-based drinks, alcoholic drinks, or drinks from companies with sales of less than 1m litre per year.

The recent study, which was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), shows clear evidence of manufacturers lowering sugar levels in drinks in response to its introduction. The researchers found that, prior to the announcement of the levy, 52% of eligible drinks were liable for the tax; but by February 2019, only 15% of eligible drinks were still liable.

School Food Matters has always supported the introduction of the SDIL, and we welcome the release of this important evaluation report which shows the significant impact of the levy. In our 2019 Election Manifesto we called for the SDIL to be extended to include sugary milk drinks, a development this report suggests will help prompt reductions in sugar levels. We will also continue to advocate for the money raised through the levy to be ‘ring fenced’ for spending on children’s health.

The full paper is available here

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